'Militarised' America in 'sorry state' - filmmaker Murdoch

Dan Murdoch interviewed a number of Black Power members in the US (Supplied)
Dan Murdoch interviewed a number of Black Power members in the US (Supplied)

A British documentary maker who's produced two films on the mounting racial tension in the United States says there is an "insipid" culture in the country that is "skewed against black folk".

Dan Murdoch - who produced Black Power: Armed Resistance, airing on TV3 at 8:30pm on Sunday night - says the protests against police brutality towards black people in recent weeks have been "completely justifiable".

"The fact is black guys are getting gunned down by white cops, regularly. There were three in the week before what happened in Dallas [and] there's been a few more this week," he said.

"If you're aged between 16 and 34 and are black, you're nine times more likely to be shot by a cop than anyone else, which is a ridiculous statistic. You can understand why people are angry."

Murdoch says many of the African-Americans he interviewed during the documentary's filming process are so afraid of police, they now refuse to call 911.

"They won't call because they think that when police arrive on a scene and they just see a whole lot of black folks, [they think] it must be a whole lot of criminals, and they escalate things," he said.

"They put everyone in handcuffs, they get guns out far too quickly, they treat everyone like they're criminals and people get hurt.

"It's a sorry state of affairs when the police force - who are meant to be protecting the community - are so mistrusted by the black community that they won't even call them for help."

However he says despite the carelessness with which some police have used their weapons, America's addiction to firearms requires a much more complicated remedy than simply banning them altogether.

"In New Zealand, your dad might take you fishing or camping. But over there, in a lot of parts of America, your dad teaches you how to use a gun - that's just the way things are."

"I've been making films in America for about three years now … and I thought I'd be like, 'This is crazy, we need to get rid of all the guns', but actually, I kind of think the horse has bolted now. There's more than 350 million privately owned firearms in America - that's one per person.

"You're never going to disarm that country - they're militarised. So the sad truth is, in order to stay safe in some parts of America, you may well need a gun."

However, Murdoch maintains that the United States' love affair with guns should never have been allowed to escalate to this point.

"It is a sad state of affairs, and if you could turn the clock back, you'd change everything - but it is what it is."